Donkey Kong Country 2 is the sequel to one of the first groundbreaking games on the SNES and it manages to add even more fun and intuitiveness to the series. The GBA version of the old game is cleaned up a bit, graphics enhanced, and looks better than ever on the portable screen.
The game does not take itself seriously at all. In fact, Cranky, the Kong from the original arcade game, even mocks the plot, saying it’s even worse than the first one, where your job as Donkey Kong was to retrieve his massive banana horde. Donkey Kong has been kidnapped this time around and it’s Diddy and his girlfriend Dixie’s job to go save him, or risk forfeiting DK’s fabled banana horde. The two younger chimps have different attributes, Dixie is faster, Diddy has more attack power, etc, although a direct hit on either of the primates will kill them. This leads to a slightly more acrobatic game than the first, where as Donkey Kong was more of a brute force character, the young monkeys swing around on hooks by their tails (or ponytail in Dixie’s case), launch each other into barrels, and generally monkey around, pun intended. The two characters complement each other nicely, as not only do their separate talents serve for different occasions, but they can also lift each other, allowing one to use the other as a weapon or a way to get to out of reach areas by hurling their partner.
The core of the game is side scrolling action, though what sets it apart from other games is the sheer amount of stuff packed into each level. You have to collect KONG letters, bananas, DK symbols, Banana Bunch Coins, Kremkoins, Photographs, and that’s not even going over the extra lives and secrets. It adds a lot to the replay value to know you can return to each level several times to find each nook and cranny. There are even animals to ride, letting you get to special bonus areas, earning more coins to turn in for rewards and gameplay hints.
Enemies come in all shapes, from those disguised as treasure chests to boss monsters at the end of each area. Everything can be killed in a usually creative way, although the standard of using their heads as a springboard is generally a viable option.
For a side scrolling platformer, it’s a fairly easy game, though there certainly are difficult parts and those unseasoned to leaping action games will probably be a bit overwhelmed at first. However, the ease of getting extra lives more than makes up for this, striking a nice balance between difficulty and retrying. Luckily, the level design is fantastic, making every repeat through a level bearable, as many sections are just fun. Who doesn’t love getting launched out of a barrel into the sky to swing from post to post while grabbing bananas only to land in a mine cart which travels the worst kept track in existence? Everything flows beautifully; the game controls seamlessly letting you swing like a Cirque De Soleil performer.
New to the GBA version are several minigames including a time trial mode, in which you move as quickly as possible through levels you’ve beaten in the story mode. You can also race on Expresso the Ostrich, fly a helicopter (which you also do in the story game) and play A